Once upon a time, I saw a strange world.
As a bright eyed graduate student, I was eager to experience something life-changing. Two planes and twenty plus hours later, I arrived in a place with different dialects, different languages, customs, food, and different constellations stretched above my head. Gone was the Big Dipper that I was accustomed to, instead, the Southern Cross greeted me from the Heavens. In South Africa, I walked many miles inside museums, libraries, universities, and market places. I tried to memorize every smell, sound, color, sight and feeling that I was experiencing. I tasted things I have never tasted, made friends, and I marveled at what deal I must have made with Spirit that would allow me, even if for a few weeks, to be lulled to sleep by the crashing waves of the ocean.
The ocean was literally in my back yard.
The majority of our planet and our body is made up of water, so to see it sprawl before you is breath taking and humbling. The ocean stilled me. I recognized the power of the water and sought it out at every chance I got.
Then, I realized that water was a luxury for many of the people in the cities I visited.
Tin and cardboard shanty homes were furnished with only makeshift beds; there were no toilets...and no water. I was amazed! OCEANS were all around, in some cases; the smell of salt was faintly in the air, yet these people, these humans, composed of mostly water, in a nation surrounded by OCEANS, in a planet made of mostly water, had little access to...water.
We students, proud Ah-mer-ree-cahns, toured the shanty houses. I was ashamed....we shouldn't be allowed into these communities to gawk at their poverty, I thought.
What can I do?
I just finished eating seafood straight from the ocean that sat in my view, what am I supposed to do with this experience? Miles and miles of shanty towns before the beauty and luxury of ocean front houses and business, how does this not shame all who see it?
My eyes flowed with water.
Children ran out of the makeshift tin homes to chase the Ah-Mare-Ree-Cahns. In that space, we were famous. We were rich, giants, walking dreams. We Ah-mare-ree-cahns, we students of little means and big hearts, searched our pockets for our meager snacks. We handed out crackers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, half eaten candy bars, and snapped pictures with the big-grinned babies.
My smile hid what heart thought.
At least give them the dignity of flushing their own toilet.
Ah-mare-ree-cah is not perfect, but THIS, I thought, would NEVER happen back home.
And then...there was Flint.
Babies burned by baleful waters.
How does this not shame all who see it?
Once upon a time, I saw a strange world, wait...
I am mistaken...
This is home.